How to Get to Know Your Neighbors
Photo by Iakov Filimonov
Back in the good ol’ days, you could take for granted that you and your family knew your neighbors. In some cases, they might have even been your best friends. But the tradition of being friendly with the neighbors has gone somewhat by the wayside in recent years. In fact, you may not even know who your neighbors are.
It’s too bad, really. In addition to the positive social aspects of having nearby friends, there’s the safety aspect. After all, if you and your neighbors know and like each other, you’re probably much more willing and able to keep an eye out for each other.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to live in a neighborhood full of strangers. Fortunately, you don’t need to make a super-big effort to get acquainted with your neighbors. You just have to take the first step.
Make a Point of Saying Hello
It’s so simple. So, why does it feel so difficult? Making the first move toward a connection with anyone is always hard, especially if you’re not used to doing so. It’s a vulnerable position to be in. But in this case, you’re probably not all that emotionally invested yet, so there’s no real reason to feel nervous.
If you pass a neighbor on the street, simply smile and offer a friendly head check. Or up the ante with a wave and a verbal greeting. No one likes rejection. But odds are you will get at least a friendly smile and a wave back. And if not, it’s no big loss. At least you put it out there that you’re open to communication.
If you’re really interested in getting to know your neighbors, show your commitment and willingness to connect by participating in neighborhood activities. Attend potlucks, set up playdates with your kids and other children in the neighborhood, or join the local neighborhood watch.
Whether purely social, or on the pretext of ensuring neighborhood safety, you’re sure to converse with —and thus, get to know—at least some of your neighbors.
Do a Little Investigating
Before you reach out to your neighbors, try doing some research on them first. You can easily find public information through an online background searchor browsing through social media. This can be helpful in a couple of ways.
One, your investigation may reveal a sordid past. In that case, you might not want to bother reaching out, after all. Or, by finding out some facts of a person’s life and background—i.e., they’re a firefighter, or they have a fishing license—you can be ready with ice-breaking conversation topics when you do finally speak with them.
It’s as easy as that! You don’t have to let a fear of small talk or worry you’re bothering someone stop you from trying to make a real connection with the people who are literally the closest to you. For a better sense of safety and camaraderie where you live, it’s time to be a good neighbor.